With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said her party would restore BC Ferries to the status of a Crown corporation if elected to government on Oct. 24.

She denounced the current for-profit motive while speaking in the Brentwood Bay neighbourhood of Central Saanich on Oct. 19 with the Mill Bay ferry as a backdrop and incumbent Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen at her side. Furstenau said a non-profit approach toward the ferry service under a Crown corporation governance model would place the needs of residents ahead of profits.

In 2003, the BC Liberals converted the BC Ferries from a Crown corporation created in 1960 into a half-public, half-private company with the provincial government as the sole shareholder.

The provincial ferry system is an “essential” part of the provincial transportation network like roads and bridges that connects communities and generates “significant” part of the provincial economy, she said, adding later that the provincial ferry system needs to put a greater emphasis on multi-modality to help reduce the provincial carbon footprint.

RELATED: NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

“If we are focused on BC Ferries being a Crown corporation, then the goal is not to generate profit, the goal is to generate service,” she said. “Our transporation is part of a service that government provides to every citizen in B.C. and every citizen should count on that service being as efficient, reliant, and affordable as possible.”

Furstenau later denounced the general erosion of service levels, but could not give concrete answers to the question of how a change in governance would improve service.

“People are feeling less and less served by the ferry system, so what we need to get to is a place where people feel that this service is actually meeting their needs and serving first and foremost, and then we measure our outcomes, based on how well we are getting to that place where people’s needs are being served,” she said. “It’s a shift in how we approach the question of our ferry system.”

When asked again for specifics, Furstenau said the change would improve passenger-ferry service, reliability, accessibility and customer services in areas such as reservations. “We have to make sure that residents in all coastal communities can count on their ferries to serve them,” she said.

Furstenau’s call unfolded against the backdrop of BC Ferries suffering massive financial losses, which executives have blamed on COVID-19. Net earnings for the fiscal year of 2020 ending March 31 fell to $28.8 million from $52.2 million in 2019, losses that will likely see taxpayers help pick up the tab through emergency relief support. BC Ferries also carries debt worth $1.4 billion.

“As you point, the provincial government and the people of B.C. contribute very significantly to this organization,” she said. “Yes, there is an issue around the debt, but what is important is that as funders, both through government and the citizens who use the ferry system, it is important that government is setting the outcomes for the service levels that we want to see.”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

BC Votes 2020Election 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Okanagan College students Michael Ochoa and Tallin Gregoire, both members of the Okanagan Indian Band, raised the Okanagan Nation Alliance flag on July 16, 2019,  outside the Vernon campus. (Karissa Gall photo)
First Nations reconciliation personified at Okanagan College

President Jim Hamilton’s foresight has opened post-secondary education doors for Okanagan College’s Indigenous students

Movie crews filmed a holiday parade in Summerland in July. The parade, filmed on Main Street in Summerland, is for the movie, The Christmas Yule Blog. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Employees at The Bargain! Shop pose with Santa at last year’s toy drive. There will be no photos with Santa this year to keep him healthy for Christmas, but the toy drive will be back for a fourth year. (Claire Palmer photo)
Fourth annual toy drive fundraiser underway

The Bargain! Shop is looking to raise $5,000 locally

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

An impaired driver was found responsible for a crash on Highway 97 near Seacrest Hill in Oliver Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 in Oliver. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired driver rolls vehicle in violent crash near Oliver

Vehicle crashed through a fence, tree and telephone line

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
Outbreak declared at Kelowna long-term care home

Two cases announced, including the first case of the virus among care home residents in Interior Health

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Emergency crews respond to crash just before midnight on Trans-Canada Highway east of Salmon Arm. (File photo)
Two pick-up trucks collide head-on on Trans-Canada Highway near Salmon Arm

Police report drivers survive crash late on Nov. 29, taken to hospital

Most Read